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If you get caught up in current affairs, keep your finger on the pulse of both national and international news,and never miss a trick when it comes to what’s trending, newsjacking could be for you. But what is it exactly? In this article, we’ll look at what newsjacking is, examples of famous newsjacking, the pros and cons of doing it,and how you could go about it. 

What is newsjacking?

Newsjacking means taking advantage of a trending news story and using it for the gain of your own brand,for example, to promote a product that you sell. This usually happens on social media, making your company relevant, and, when used correctly, earning youkudos (and business) from consumers and industry peers alike. Get it wrong,though, and you may find yourself at the receiving end of some criticism. 

What are some newsjacking examples? 

Burger King's Big Mac-ish menu

Usually at the forefront of clever plays on words, this particular story saw McDonalds on the receiving end for a change. In February 2019, when McDonald’s lost its Big Mac trademark in the EU, competitors Burger King swooped in and used the famous phrase to highlight how their fast food offerings compared. Menu items suddenly included ‘Like a Big Mac, but Actually Big’, and ‘The Burger a Big Mac Wishes It Was’, taking a swipe at the golden arches. 

Burger King's Big Mac-ish campaign

Uber's ‘thank you for not riding’ campaign

In an age of constantly rolling news, it’s hard to pick out the biggest story from the past few years. However, one of the contenders has, of course, got to be the global pandemic. Transport company Uber, who, in less panicked times pride themselves on getting their service users from A to B, thanked the public for not doing so during COVID-19. When unnecessary travel meant unnecessary risk,Uber earned brownie points from the world for acknowledging that public safety was more important than profit. 

Uber's thank you message during COVID-19

Oreo's blackout ad

Newsjacking requires quick thinking for ultimate impact, something Oreo knows all about. During the SuperBowl XLVII in 2013, the lights famously went out on the pitch thanks to a massive power outage. Quick off the mark, Oreo tweeted a simple graphic shortly after, which showed a solitary Oreo on one side of an otherwise shadowy setting, alongside the caption ‘Power out? No problem’. The graphic read ‘You can still dunk in the dark’.

A speedy turnaround, a harmless reference to a current news story, and some clever alliteration. Perfect newsjacking!

Oreo's tweet during the 2023 SUper Bowl blackout

Charmin's Oscars jibe

Nobody said that selling toilet paper couldn’t be fun, as demonstrated by Charmin’s sassy tweet on Oscar’s day back in 2013. ‘Good luck to the nominees tonight’, the tweet read. ‘Don’t forget to look down before your speech’. The accompanying graphic depicted a beautiful dress with an unfortunate trail of toilet paper strung along from the back. Hey, it happens to the best of us!

CHarmin tweet for the 2013 Oscars

Why should you newsjack?

Newsjacking is a fantastic opportunity to ride the wave of a popular story, using its popularity to get in front of more eyes than ever before. Increase brand awareness, stick in people’s memories, and ultimately, drive sales. 

What are the pros and cons of newsjacking? 

There are reasons for and against jumping on the bandwagon of current news stories, and they are as follows: 

Pros of newsjacking

  • It takes little effort - see how short some of the messages above were? 
  • Your newsjacking content becomes more searchable as people Google the story. 
  • The potential to go viral on social media, getting more eyeballs on your brand than ever before.
  • If done properly, your existing customers will feel even more loyal to you, and proud of their association. 
  • Give prospective customers an idea of what you’re about without a hard sell. 

Cons of newsjacking

  • However you newsjack, the window you have in which to do it will be short - and it’ll be effort put into something that will soon no longer be relevant.
  • You run the risk of striking the wrong chord, potentially even offending people, which is a reputation that will hang around longer than the news story. 
  • You could be diluting your brand and appearing inauthentic by attempting to harness trends that simply don’t chime with your brand values; your audience can pick up on it more easily than you think. 

How should I newsjack? 

If the benefits of newsjacking sound like something you’d like a piece of, here’s how to maximise the success of your efforts:  

Find trending stories that can be newsjacked

The first rule of newsjacking is to keep your eye on what’s happening in the world,getting automatic news notifications to your phone or email if it helps. Lookfor stories that are light and harming no one - serious news stories are to be avoided. 

Provide a unique spin using your brand

Successful newsjacking hinges on subtly, and, crucially, includes your brand - it’s no good simply giving your opinion as the business owner - find an aspect of the news story that you could use to cleverly incorporate your brand into theconversation.  

Appeal to your audience

You know what your audience’s likes and dislikes are, right? React accordingly when it comes to newsjacking. 

Master the art of good timing

A quick reaction is vital to successful newsjacking - a couple of days later just won’t cut it. When a story breaks and you’re confident that it’s the right fit for your brand, get busy making graphics and drafting that caption! 

Build traction with your news

It’s time to get sharing! Share your content over the social networks that you use and encourage your team to do the same. 

Don't over do it

Knowing when not to newsjack is as important as knowing when you should doit. For starters, some topics are off limits, and there’s also a risk of your audience tiring of regular newsjacking, turning their eyes away from yourbrand; the opposite of what you’re after! 

Should you add newsjacking to your marketing?

You may think that newsjacking is just for the big boys, but it’s not off limits to smaller businesses in any way; in fact, it could be something of a golden ticket if used correctly. If you know your brand values and fancy finding a story that fits them, give newsjacking a go!

 If you need some help and guidance with your social media campaigns or just want to have a general chat about your SEO and other digital marketing, simply get in touch with us today!

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About Chris Simmons

Chris is our onpage SEO Specialist at 427 Marketing, having joined the team in early 2023. He works with our content team to cover the 4 pillars of SEO; content, onpage SEO, technical SEO and offpage SEO. Prior to joining the 427 Marketing team, Chris spent almost 10 years applying his SEO and content skills across several different industries in marketing agency and inhouse roles including tool hire, auctioneering, health care within the NHS and high end luxury retail in both B2B and B2C capacities. His passion for writing, content, UX, technical and on page SEO has expanded our content offerings, helping provide reliable advice about all things SEO to 427 Marketing.

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